Derby County manager Nigel Clough is hoping either Jake Buxton or Mark O'Brien can be patched up in time to face Hull City
DERBY County will look to patch up either Mark O'Brien or Jake Buxton in time for tomorrow's Championship clash at Hull City.
Both central defenders have knee problems following Saturday's 2-2 draw against Sheffield Wednesday.
And utility defender James O'Connor is definitely out with a knee injury of his own.
Derby need somebody to partner skipper Richard Keogh at the heart of the back four.
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If O'Brien and Buxton fail to make the game at the KC Stadium, manager Nigel Clough could turn to 19-year-old Valentin Gjokaj.
The Albanian Under-21 international, who was an unused substitute at the weekend, has yet to start a first-team game.
O'Brien has, in recent weeks, been troubled by discomfort in his knee. He was named in the 11 to face Wednesday but pulled out during the warm-up.
Derby turned to Buxton, who had not played in nine weeks due to knee ligament damage.
Buxton ploughed through the 90 minutes but tweaked the same knee that had sidelined him.
Clough hopes one of the injured defenders can emerge from the treatment room as the Rams look to stretch their three-match unbeaten League run.
"We're not sure who will play centre-half with Richard Keogh at this moment," said the manager.
"Jake has tweaked his knee again, the same knee he has been out with, and so between him and Mark O'Brien we are not sure who will make it.
"Jimmy O'Connor will not be right for Tuesday."
If Derby find themselves short of a fit central defender, they could switch John Brayford from right-back and bring in Kieron Freeman.
Striker Jamie Ward is expected to face Hull.
He was substituted 11 minutes from the end of the game at Hillsborough due to cramp in his calves.
Hull will be Derby's second fixture of five in 15 days.
"Such a schedule gives you little recovery time," said Clough.
"Without being a nasty game, Sheffield Wednesday was a physical game.
"I thought we dealt well with the corners and the throw-ins and I cannot remember goalkeeper Adam Legzdins having too much to do.
"I thought the back four were good. Bucko and Richard Keogh were excellent and John Brayford made some superb headers.
"We will get the players patched up and we will go and have a go at Hull."